12 July 2009

HOSHRUBA translated by Musharraf Ali Farooqi

Who needs Harry Potter?

This book has a beautiful cover, but of course that shouldn’t be a reason to rush to pick it up. I loved Musharraf Ali Farooqi’s last book, The Story of a Widow, but that shouldn’t be a reason to grab it either – that one was a novel and this was actually written by someone else and only translated by Musharraf. Hoshruba is a series of stories filled with magic, romance, riches, enmity and passion. It’s a sequel to The Adventures of Amir Hamza – also translated from Urdu by Musharraf Ali Farooqi – and was written by the court storytellers of Lucknow in the nineteenth century, more than a thousand years after the original first enthralled audiences in the Middle East and Central Asia. This book has 447 pages, and there are 23 more volumes, all of which Musharraf intends to translate. The story of the creation of these epics is also fascinating, and well told in the introduction to the book which I did eventually get round to though I, like Musharraf, never read “introductions” first. If you enjoy fast-moving and well-written books filled with magic, romance, riches, enmity and passion, this one’s for you.
When I asked Musharraf how he expects this enormous body of work he is creating to influence the general global perception of the Islamic world, he replied, “Frankly, I find it discourteous to change anyone’s opinion of anything. My effort is aimed at readers worldwide who are unaware of this awesome fantastic story. I want to get the book into their hands. They will know what to do with it.”
When I mentioned that a colleague told me he’d gone through Hoshruba and thought it totally absurd though it might make a good special effects movie, Musharraf quipped, “Please give my love to your colleague. Everyone knows there is far more money in special effects movies than in translating classics. If your colleague’s hunch is right, I will be soon headed for the bank with a big gunny sack.”
You can read the rest of our conversation in the
17 July 2009 issue of Open Magazine at http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/books/adventures-of-musharraf-ali-farooqi. As for me – I’m waiting to get my hands on Between Clay and Dust, the new novel Musharraf Ali Farooqi is working on.

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